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Decrypting digital authoritarianism

How the use of the internet can threaten democracy and human rights

Add to calendar 2024-10-28 09:00 2024-10-29 18:00 Europe/Rome Decrypting digital authoritarianism Refectory Badia Fiesolana YYYY-MM-DD


Mon 28 Oct 2024 09.00 - 18.00

Tue 29 Oct 2024 09.00 - 18.00



Badia Fiesolana

Global initiative on the future of the Internet project conference


Authoritarian states are increasingly using the Internet in the ways that undermine its open, free, safe and secure character. In trying to understand these trends – their intensity and sophistication - we have seen growth in scholarship across disciplines that has scrutinised the adverse effects that certain uses of new technologies have on societal development, economic growth, human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy or international security. However, so far the debates about what an authoritarian use of the Internet means have been fragmented across behavioural sciences, computer sciences, economics, law or political science, to name just a few disciplines, yielding a partial picture. And most of the research has focused on the policy and political aspects of the use of the Internet leaving aside more technology-centred discussions about the various models of online censorship and information suppression, automated surveillance systems, and the use of information technologies for purposes of social control more broadly. There is also little research about how the up-to-date counter-practices and preventive/corrective tools are or could be deployed to counter digital authoritarianism trends. There is also a clear need for a continued and up-to-date empirical research that documents this phenomenon. With this conference, we want to address these lacuna by fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue.

Goals of the conference

The aim of the conference is to bring together leading scholars working on practices that could be defined as digital authoritarianism to (1) document such practices globally and empirically, (2) better understand their drivers and implications for different stakeholder groups and general democratisation/authoritarian trends, and (3) identify practices that are developed to counter digital authoritarianism. 


Conference sessions will be organised in two specific formats: (1) panel sessions of maximum 4 papers (selected through the call for papers) and (2) roundtables with invited speakers. 

The conference is technology-neutral, which means that it will address a broad range of issues rather than being restricted to a specific technical domain. It will examine, among others, arbitrary or unlawful surveillance, governance of platforms, internet shutdowns, protection of human rights online, foreign information manipulation and interference with democratic processes, or artificial intelligence. 

Submissions and timeline

The call for papers has been closed.

To request additional information, please contact conference organisers: Prof. Stephanie Hofmann ([email protected]) and Prof. Patryk Pawlak ([email protected]).

Scientific Organiser(s):

Patryk Pawlak

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